When it comes to the best CrossFit shoes, everyone has an opinion–a search online will show people arguing for and against Reebok’s, Nike’s, NOBULL’s, Under Armours and the others.
They’ve each got their strengths and weaknesses, but not all are created equal.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the range of the best CrossFit shoes on the market, so you can find the best one for your needs and budget.
I’ve owned or know people who have owned all of the major brands in the CrossFit shoe world, so I don’t have a bias or loyalty. As you can expect from my articles, I’ll share an honest viewpoint based on thorough testing.
If you’re in a rush, here is a summary of my rankings:
Often when I review exercise equipment, there’s a clear winner and the differences from best to ‘worst’ are pretty obvious.
In this case though, the top 3 here are basically interchangeable.
I’m happy that number 1 is the number 1 (and it’s the best shoe available, in my opinion), but numbers 2 and 3 are as good as each other. It’s a matter of personal choice, brand loyalty and design preference.
I hope in the review I’ve explained well enough why they’re placed where they are.
In full disclosure though, you could buy any of the 4 shoes in this review and you’d be getting a fantastic CrossFit shoe. These are the class leaders and are all excellent.
The Reebok Nano is the most famous of all CrossFit shoes and the Nano X is (in my opinion), their leading shoe in terms of quality and value. Reebok has recently released an updated Nano ‘X1’ but in all honesty, whilst the X1 is also fantastic, the additional cost isn’t justified.
For the sake of a few grams of weight shaved off and a slightly softer upper, save the money.
The Reebok Nano X is the result of 10 years of research and development. The sole is flexible enough to run in but provides great stability for any of the weightlifting movements.
There’s a wide toe box for all kinds of lifting. You can literally go straight from heavy squats into running, skipping or jumping without issue.
It’s the perfect all-rounder.
There’s no side-to-side movement, they’re cheaper than their competition, they’re available in a wide range of colors and styles and they do everything you’d need a CrossFit shoe to do.
The laces are reliable and the heel is raised just enough for you to maintain a good upright torso on a snatch/clean and jerk, but not enough for it to impact your other movements.
The Reebok Nano X is the best CrossFit shoe on the market and around 30 bucks cheaper than its nearest competition.
If you’re looking for a phenomenal crossfit shoe, this is the one you want.
Nike have been improving their CrossFit offering for a few years now and in my opinion, the Metcon 6 is their best yet. It’s a shoe that suits CrossFit really well, with a few interesting features that will benefit CrossFitters with a variety of training goals.
It’s their best offering for lifters to date.
The sole isn’t flat all along, but it has a flat heel that will help weightlifting.
It contains a removable ‘hyperlift’ insert, which aids stability and heel raising during weightlifting movements. There’s an issue with this though, because it leaves you with a choice to make on workouts containing lifts and running: do you bias the heel stability for lifting, or the flexibility for running?
It’s not practical to keep putting it in and taking it out mid workout!
The shoes have an excellent feature you don’t see anywhere else: a rubberised grip on the instep which will help with rope climbs. It’s a useful addition to an already great shoe.
The reasons I put the Metcon 6 second in the review are because at $130, it’s more expensive than the Nano X, plus the laces are notorious for coming undone mid-workout. It’s an issue that can be resolved with replacement laces or lock laces, but in $130 shoes, you’d expect to not need to solve such a problem.
Whilst it’s true it has the features of the X, here’s why I disagree…
The main ‘upgrades’ from the X to the X1 are a softer upper, more ankle support and a slimmer profile.
All understandable, but none of these are a problem in the X and you’re paying an extra $24 minimum to solve problems that didn’t exist. It’s not like the X is too wide, too stiff and not supportive enough!
If you strip these points out, you’ve still got a great shoe.
It’s the perfect hybrid, suited for lifting, running, outdoor and dynamic work. It’s breathable, comfortable and flexible. It’s tough too.
Reebok have developed the Nano range for over a decade and you can see all of the learnings and innovation in each pair. They’re the best CrossFit shoe range on the market with good reason.
You’d be forgiven for wondering why I’ve put the X1 in 3rd, when essentially it’s the same shoe as the winner.
Let me explain why… It’s more expensive than the Nano X, so it’s behind that. It’s the same price as the Metcon 6, but doesn’t have the medial rope grip.
In all honesty though, if I could make the Nano X1 and the Metcon 6 tied in second place, I would.
The NOBULL trainer is very well regarded and rightly so–it’s a great shoe and has been designed with CrossFit in mind.
The shoe upper is made from a single piece of material, which is supposed to improve comfort and allow for much more freedom of movement. There’s carbon support integrated into the shoe as well, providing additional stability.
It has a breathable upper, meaning your feet will remain more comfortable as the workouts get sweatier. The fabric is tough and abrasion resistant, so you’ll have no worries with the ripping of the material when you have to head outdoors.
The outsole is flexible and grippy, meaning it transitions well from the indoors to outdoors.
The lifting element is complimented by a 4mm drop from heel to toe, so it provides a little extra heel stability for the heavy lifting elements of the sport. What I would say is that this is a shoe more at home in the dynamic elements of CrossFit than the strength elements.
The mesh upper is fine for running in, but there are shoes more suited to lifting out there, so bear that in mind.
The NOBULL is a great all-rounder and perfect if you’re looking for a CrossFit shoe that is more comfortable with the running and jumping elements of the sport than the strength and power elements.
It’s also the most suitable CrossFit shoe for day-to-day wear.
By its very nature, CrossFit is designed to test the ‘unknown and the unknowable’, so your CrossFit fitness equipment have to be able to cope with a wide variety of challenges. With this in mind, the shoes have to be flexible,
CrossFit shoes are best described as a hybrid – they generally have a flat outer sole, a stiff upper sole, a slightly raised heel and excellent foot support just like a weightlifting shoe, but they combine those elements with a soft, flexible upper to allow for comfortable running, skipping and jumping.
Essentially, they mix the best elements of a weightlifting shoe and a running shoe to create a product that is a true all-rounder. Something that you can perform the olympic lifts, squats and deadlifts in, but also run, skip, jump and throw in. They’re perfect for CrossFit because if you’re wearing a pair, you don’t need to keep switching shoes as you go from weightlifting to dynamic movements.
I believe that if you are going to be serious about your CrossFit training then yes, you do need them – it’s not practical to keep switching from lifting shoes to running shoes mid-workout.
First of all, I stick to the maxim that you’re looking for equipment, not fashion when it comes to your CrossFit shoes. With that in mind, forget about looks for the moment and think about functionality. Here’s the key points you should be considering in a CrossFit shoe…
To provide you with the fairest review of the CrossFit shoes on the market, they’re being judged across a number of different points. The flexibility, stability and support are critical–when you’re running, jumping and lifting, these are integral to the safety of the lifter. Next up we’re looking at comfort–are they comfortable to wear day after day? If you’re training 4+ times per week in them, they need to feel good.
Finally we’re going to look at the practical aspects such as the price of the shoes, the quality of the laces, the range of options, delivery information and the like. Whilst these aren’t a deal-breaker on their own, they’re important enough to mention in a review.